Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called on United Nations member countries to establish an independent international entity to track and identify people who have disappeared since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011.
In a joint statement published on Wednesday, the two NGOs said that member states should do everything in their power to ensure that a new international body in line with the UN secretary-general’s recommendations is established quickly through General Assembly action.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres proposed the mechanism in a landmark report published in August 2022 on how to bolster efforts to address the thousands of detained and disappeared and provide support to their families.
The statement made it clear that the Assad regime has been responsible for the vast majority of those disappearances, which frequently result in deaths in custody and extrajudicial executions.
Groups representing families of people formerly detained, as well as Syrian civil society and international human rights organizations, have tirelessly advocated on behalf of torture victims and the thousands who have been disappeared, arbitrarily detained, and kidnapped, calling for a robust independent body to investigate thousands of disappearances.
As of August, the Syrian Network for Human Rights estimated that around 111,000 people remain unaccounted for, most believed to have been in the hands of the Assad regime.
Salwa Aksoy, member of the Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) political committee and Coordinator of the Syrian National Commission for the Affairs of Detainees and Missing Persons, welcomed the calls for the establishment such mechanism, but she demanded that the mechanism fulfill the demands of the families of the detainees.
Aksoy said that the SOC strongly supports the efforts of any entity or mechanism that seeks to release the detainees and disclose the fate of the missing in the detention centers of the Assad regime. She stressed the need for such mechanism to ensure the release of detainees, stop arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, and hold accountable those responsible for arrests, torture and execution of detainees.
Aksoy called for paying serious attention to this issue and to deal with it in implementation of UN resolutions on Syria, most notably the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Resolutions 2118 and 2254.
(Source: SOC’s Media Department)